Hamra, Ma'ale Efrayim, Tayasir, Thu 18.3.10, Afternoon
· The Problem of water at the village of Bardla.
11:20 - Maaleh Efraim Checkpoint
A soldier is hiding inside the booth, while a settler with a rifle is standing on the road. Is he replacing the soldier?
11:40 - Hamra Checkpoint
There is a line of seven cars. Workers are returning from work in the settlements in the Jordan Valley. Some of them get out of their cars and pass through the checkpoint on foot. They don't pass through the checkpoint under the shelter that was built for them, but instead they have to walk down the road in the sun. Two people approach the soldier and he sends them back 100 meters because they approached him before he told them to. They obey and approach him one by one when he gives them a signal.
Cars from the Jordan valley and the West Bank stop about 50 meters in front of the checkpoint and their passengers get out and walk through and wait 100 meters beyond the checkpoint. The men have to remove their belts and some have to remove their shoes as well. A mobile X-ray unit by the side of the road is not working.
The Village of Bardla
This is the largest village in the northern Jordan Valley. There are four large wells in the village, all of which have been confiscated by Mekorot, the Israeli water company. Most of the village is in Area B (under joint control of the PA and Israel), but the wells are considered part of Area C (under Israeli control). Areas B and C were established 15 years ago according to what was then the built-up area, but the village has grown since then. (Does "natural increase" also apply to the Palestinians or just to settlements?) Since then the village has expanded into what is designated as Area C, including one house that is half in Area B and half in Area C. The State of Israel has issued demolition orders for all of them.
Before 1967 there were 700 people in the village as well as the Swofta Clan. After the war, 150 people were left and the rest fled to Jordan. After a few months some of the refugees returned to their homes. In 1967 immediately after the war, water was allocated for the 150 people who had remained. Today 2500 people must live on the same allotment. Although there are some wells in the village, they are not deep enough and therefore cannot cope with the pumping of water by Mekorot, which is done by means of advanced technology and drills very deep. Most of the wells in the village have now dried up because of the intense pumping activities. The spring that once ran through the center of the village has also dried up because of intense pumping. In 1969 the army, commanded by Nino, who as then head of the Civil Administration, came and shot 500 sheep that had come to drink from the spring. This was a traumatic event that is remembered by old and young alike.
We also visited a farmer from Ein el Bida who had some of his land confiscated for use by the settlement of Mehula. Today they grow produce on the land that is labeled "organic." They also grow dates. The man whom we visited also raised dates, but one day three months ago he discovered that his 250 trees next to the orchard belonging to the settlers had been cut down. The man is well-off and has other crops. He will get along, but he says that small farmers who depend upon a single field of crops will not survive and will have to leave.
15:30 - Tayasir Checkpoint
Four cars are waiting for a large group of passengers on the west side of the checkpoint whose crossing was delayed. When we arrived the soldiers called them and they crossed through quickly.
15:50 - The soldiers try to make us leave. We refused, and the checkpoint commander yelled, "Make them all move back." And the checkpoint was closed. We called the Liaison and Coordination Administration officer and heard the usual refrain: "What difference does it make to you? For the sake of quiet, move back 100 ..." In the end we called the lawyer and they sent a fax to the legal advisor regarding the illegal checkpoint. -16.10 After phoning the Liaison and Coordination Administration the checkpoint was opened again, but there was now a long line of cars from east to west. The soldiers told us they had called the police [to deal with us].
The soldiers are checking every car and every person, for their ID, and each worker returning on the bus from work in settlements in the valley is being checked for permits and IDs. Two days ago I received a phone call from workers and drivers saying that the soldiers were checking all passengers on the busses or workers coming back from Beit HaArava, and that they had been insulting and cursing them and forced them to remove their shoes and to take off some articles of their clothing. They then confiscated a cellular phone belonging to the person they suspected had called me. We left in the pouring rain at 16:30. The police had not yet arrived and we saw no reason to wait for them.
We wanted to visit Abu-Sakker from Hadidya, but the army under orders from the settlers had blocked the road leading to their camp with piles of dirt. We bypassed the settlement of Roi in order to reach it by the longer route, but the gate leading to it was locked. He explained to us that in order to get to his camp you had to drive north all the way to the settlement of Hemdat and then drive back on a rough dirt road several kilometers to the camp. Since it was already late and the already difficult road was even more difficult because of the rain, we decided not to go.